By Jeremy Stafford - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Nearly three years ago, Brock Lockhart was just a sophomore, just a scout team tailback, happy to be playing varsity football at James Wood.
Yet Colonels football coach Mike Bolin, then a James Wood assistant, noticed something in Lockhart rarely seen in other athletes.
Lockhart wasn't especially large or nimble, Bolin said, but he exuded intangible properties perceived most readily by a trained pair of eyes.
"You could tell he had a knack to run the ball," Bolin recalled. "Other guys might be faster or bigger than him, but he had a combination of things that made him a good runner.
"He had the physical tools and he had the mentality that he wanted the ball when the game was on the line."
It's a quality that stretched beyond the football season, into the basketball season, into the baseball season. It's a quality that made him The Northern Virginia Daily Male Athlete of the Year.
Lockhart rushed for 2,016 yards and 20 touchdowns in the fall, averaged 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in the winter, and batted .327 with six doubles and nine RBIs in the spring.
As a running back he was named first team All-Northwestern District, first team All-Region II, and second team All-State. He was named second team All-Northwestern District in basketball and baseball.
But very little of his senior season was foreseeable.
As a junior, Lockhart rushed for only 628 yards, at 4.4 yards a carry, and didn't play basketball. The 2009 baseball season, during which Lockhart batted .340 with eight doubles and 15 RBIs, was perhaps the only congruency between Lockhart's junior and senior years.
"I guess everyone goes into their senior year thinking it's gonna be their best," Lockhart said of this past football season, "but I had no idea I was going to do as well as I did."
Lockhart set James Wood records for most yards in a game, most carries in a game, most carries in a season, total points, and total touchdowns.
Not only did Lockhart also surpass James Wood's single-season rushing record, he further spurred the Colonels to a 7-5 season, including a 27-25 win over Loudoun County in the Region II playoffs, James Wood's first playoff win since 1970.
Lockhart very nearly gave James Wood two consecutive playoff wins -- he scored on a 3-yard run with 2:14 remaining in the Region II semifinals against Sherando, then after an onside kick he cavorted the Colonels back to the Warriors' 3-yard line. A James Wood holding penalty with just over 20 seconds remaining essentially ended the game, 13-7.
That game ended with the kind of situation Lockhart often thrived in -- seconds spilling away, success within reach, the ball in his hand.
"I want the ball when the game is on the line," Lockhart said. "I feel like I can handle that responsibility and produce.
"I know if we lose that game it will be on me, and I don't want that on someone else."
What impressed Bolin so much about Lockhart, aside from that fourth-quarter performance, was the effort he put into preparing for the game.
The urge to win, for Lockhart, doesn't hide under his helmet and pads.
Lockhart watched film of himself in James Wood's regular season game against Sherando, when the bruiser was held to a season-low 103 yards. Bolin said that players of Lockhart's caliber aren't often receptive to criticism, but Lockhart drank it in.
"When you get players who are 'me' guys, they're hard to coach because they don't have that thing it takes to win," Bolin said. "I know he would have traded every yard he had in the Sherando game to win.
"That's why he's done as well had he has: He wanted to win, and when you have a kid like that you can do lots of things with him."
When the football season ended, Lockhart went out for James Wood's basketball team for the first time since his freshman year, at the request of senior Trae Tinsman.
In the two years prior to the 2009-10 basketball season, Lockhart did little more than shoot in his driveway and play an occasional pickup game. Yet he made the team, earned a starting role, made the all-district team. The Colonels (11-13) lingered in the middle of the district standings before knocking top-seeded Handley out of the district tournament, thus advancing to the district final and qualifying for the Region II tournament.
Lockhart scored 18 points in that playoff game against Handley, significant considering Tinsman was hampered by foul trouble.
The baseball season was less splendid.
Playing three sports took its toll on Lockhart -- not drastically, but enough so that he noticed. He ended his long James Wood career with a 13-inning loss to Skyline in the district tournament qualifier.
But his sports career is hardly over. Lockhart will attend Shenandoah University in the fall, where he plans to play football and baseball for the Hornets.
No more of those grueling three-season marathons for the James Wood graduate.
Though the constant action of last year became wearisome, Lockhart at least admits it was an enjoyable, worthwhile process.
"Your senior year, you want to do as much as you can," Lockhart said. "You don't want to have regrets, so I wouldn't take it back.
"I guess it's every kid's dream, so it was definitely worth playing all these sports over the years, and looking back I'll say I did as much as I could."